How to Use Who and Whom
Three pronouns are used to ask questions.
EX. Who brought the book?
EX. Which (book) do you mean?
EX. What (book, dog, man) do you want?
When we use the pronouns who, which, what to ask questions, we call them interrogative pronouns.
Who refers to persons.
Which refers to animals or things.
What refers to persons, animals, or things.
The words which and what have no other forms.
Who, the interrogative pronoun, is always a subject.
Whom is always the object of a verb or a preposition.
Use caution when figuring out the proper form of this interrogative word. Position does not help to determine which to use because the interrogative is always the first word in the sentence, or near the first.
The words which and what are also used with nouns as interrogative adjectives to ask questions.
Interrogative pronoun: What was she saying?
Interrogative adjective: What word did he use?
Interrogative pronoun: Which do you want?
Interrogative adjective: Which boy should I scold?
As interrogative adjectives, both which and what may refer to persons or things.
EX. Which student? Which computer? What lesson? What player?
NOTE. Which is selective. What is more general.
These same pronouns, who, which, and what, have another use besides asking questions. Notice these sentences:
EX. The dancers who are practicing are under the age of 16.
EX. We brought the knives which you want.
EX. We knew what you would want.
We can use the word that in the same way.
EX. The dancers that you see are are under the age of 16.
The case forms of who may be used also.
EX. The dancers whom you see are under the age of 16
EX. The men whose boots are stacked by the tents are U.S. Navy Seals.
In each of the six examples the word we chose connects an adjective clause, of which it is a part, with its own antecedent. Such words are called relative (or conjunctive) pronouns. As conjunctions, they show the relation of the clause modifier to the antecedent of the pronoun; as pronouns, they have some place (subject, object of a verb, adjective modifier, or object of a preposition) in the subordinate clause.
They do not have forms for person, number, or gender; and only the word who has case forms. There is, then, no agreement between the relative pronoun and its antecedent in person, number, gender, or case. Make sure you get the correct form of who in the subordinate clause.
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